Lucy Elliot Keeler Diary.
Lucy Elliot Keeler
Excitement nearly overwhelmed Lucy Elliot Keeler as the train
pulled into the station in Washington, D.C. She and her father Isaac Keeler,
editor of the "Fremont Journal", were on their way to the White House to visit
their famous cousin, President Rutherford B. Hayes. Lucy kept a detailed account
of everything she saw and did during her four-week stay in Washington.
It was not the first time the teen had made such a record.
While her friends learned to cook and sew, Lucy researched and wrote articles
for her father’s paper. Bright, curious, and independent, Lucy dreamed of a
career in journalism.
When her eyesight began to fail, Lucy left Wells College in
Aurora, New York, and returned to her parents’ home on Birchard Avenue in
Fremont, Ohio. There she discovered that the things she loved most were all
around her – family, friends, the Sandusky River, area history, her books, and
her flower garden. It was from her little "half-acre homestead" that Lucy began
to write professionally. Before long, her feature articles appeared in "Harper’s
Bazaar," "Youth’s Companion," "Ladies’ Home Journal," and the prestigious
"Atlantic Monthly." She also continued to write for her father’s newspaper,
taking over the society, school, church, literary, and club news.
Lucy taught Sunday School at the Presbyterian Church,
established literary and music clubs, and published well-researched local
history pamphlets – all the while caring for her aging parents. Perhaps her
greatest contribution to Sandusky County was the reorganization of the Birchard
Public Library. With the help of trustees and staff, Keeler transformed the
library from a "dreary dungeon-like place" to a center of culture and learning,
where Fremont residents participated in flower shows, book discussions, musical
events, charity drives, and war-bond campaigns.
Beloved by the Hayes family, Keeler was a frequent guest at
Spiegel Grove. She often traveled with President Hayes and his daughter Fanny.
Webb Hayes depended on her to gather historical materials for what would become
the Hayes Library. Rud Hayes, the president’s third son, shared many interests
with Lucy. Together they rowed on the river, read books, hiked, played tennis,
studied botany, and experimented with photography.
Upon her death, Keeler bequeathed her diaries, writings, and
candid photographs of the Hayes family to the Hayes Library, now the Rutherford
B. Hayes Presidential Center. [Finding Aid to
Lucy Elliot Keeler Collection LH-13] Equally important was her legacy of
giving and sharing with the community she loved. Keeler once expressed her
philosophy on life in an article titled "Around My Corner." She wrote, "I like
to think that just as I am a part of my corner, so I am a part of a great
orderly, mutually helpful world not stranded or isolated in it, but
lending somewhat to it, and nourished and enriched by its fullness."